Stephen Lawhead’s THE SKIN MAP — Day 3

Stephen R. Lawhead's THE SKIN MAP

YES! Day 3 of the CSFF Blog Tour! If you haven’t read Day 1, or Day 2, don’t miss them, for they contain RIDDLE #1 and RIDDLE #2 For the Stephen Lawhead autographed THE SKIN MAP give-away!

One more recap, I was incredibly privileged to spend a weekend around Stephen in early October at the Laity Lodge Writer’s Retreat. And just for you, I lugged my extra copy of THE SKIN MAP 700 miles (okay, it wasn’t *that* heavy), just so he could sign it so that I CAN GIVE IT AWAY AS PART OF THE BLOG TOUR!

Here are the rules to win the Stephen Lawhead signed copy of The Skin Map, book one of The Bright Empires:

  • You must visit my blog posts for all three days of the tour and make some sort of meaningful comment toward the discussion of that day. BE AWARE … it doesn’t matter if you’re late to the tour … go back to those days, comment, and solve the riddle! there’s STILL TIME!
  • You must solve each of the riddles, and sometime before 8AM tomorrow (central standard time), provide me the answers through this Contact Form.
  • Note … do not give your answers in a comment or others will see!
  • If more than one person fulfills the requirements, I will hold a drawing to determine the winner.

Note #1: The riddles are progressively harder, with today being VERY HARD. Put on your sleuthing hats!

Note #2: Anyone is eligible to win the autographed book, even those that already own a copy! BUT … if you already own a copy, and want this autographed copy, I would request that you hold a contest of your own to give away your unsigned extra copy after you win.

Note #3: Although the riddles have to do with the book, you can solve it without owning the book by using Google Books.

But first my own review, and then at the very bottom of this post you will find the DAY THREE RIDDLE:

Here’s my scheduleDay One: The Plot / Day Two: The Characters / Day Three: The Craft.


Is this the entire cast from the book? Not by a long shot, but it is a good overview.


Stephen LawheadOkay, I’m biased about Stephen’s writing. No, I’m not. Yes I am! Well, not really—because Lawhead is just in top-form here with his writing in The Skin Map.

Two things: The opening, the particulars, and the setting. Did I say two? Well, there are three kinds of people, those that can count, and those that can’t.

The Opening:

This is the most critical part of a book, because it, more than anything else (besides the cover) sells the book! And here Lawhead just outdid himself:

Had he but known that before the day was over he would discover the hidden dimensions of hte universe, Kit might have been better prepared. At least, he would have brought an umbrella.

This is so fun, hearkens a bit back to the Hobbit when Bilbo leave home unprepared for his journey, and also hints at things to come. It is the most excellent of openings, merging the normal day-to-day with the spectacular, mystery-filled world awaiting the reader.

Therefore, I know instantly I can trust Stephen to lead me on a grand adventure.

But before I move on, I do want to say something about the cover … in my opinion, it is excellent as well. It still catches my eye after months with the book, and I daresay it will help sell the novel.

I have heard that Stephen had a lot of issues with the publisher trying to get the cover right, and I dont’ know if he is fully satisfied with it, but I think it is top-notch.

Not only does it give us a hint of the skin map (did you know that Stephen Lawhead himself drew all those symbols on the cover? The artist took his work directly and included them!), but of the humanity of the original owner of the map (the eye, in my opinion, represents Arthur). And the man, Kit, running along ley-line between two worlds is also excellent … Egypt on the one hand, and London on the other.

Anyway, on to point two…

The Particulars:

One thing that marks a great writer is an attention to detail. Here is my favorite passage that exemplifies this:

While his companions slurped down the soup, he looked around the room at his fellow diners: all men, and all wearing the same dark wool clothing with minor variations. All sported elaborate lace neckwear and a marvellous profusion of beards. This, Kit decided, was really where they splashed out. Indeed, the general population seemed to be in some sort of tonsorial competition to see who could achieve the most outlandish whiskers. Judging form the results on display, the contest was at a highly advanced stage.

There were men with sideburns so think it looked as if they were peeping out from behind a scrubby bush; others with moustaches that had long since covered their mouths and threatened to engulf their chins; there were pointed beard,s pencil-thin beards, ornately sculpted beards, goatees, and full-blown Father Time beards. Several had immaculately pin-curled their facial hair, and one especially hirsute fellow had grown his neck hair long and brushed it upward to meet his face, rather than vice versa. Kit ran his fingers over his own scruffy growth and knew himself to be something of a pitiful specimen to the others.

Ha-ha! I can put myself right in this scene. It is fantastic.

And so, now for point three…

The Setting:

I won’t cite a particular passage here, but one of the marks of a Lawhead book is that he visits ALL the places he writes about, and you can tell. This is why he moved to England in the first place! So, whether we are in Prague, London, the Black-Mixen-Tump, or Egypt—he has been there.

This means that his descriptions of the setting are marvelous, accurate, and ring so true that you just keep reading. He is very careful to make sure you “stay in the story”.

My recommendation? Buy this book! Kindle version, Parchment version, Hardcover, any version you can find, or you will be kicking yourself years from now that you didn’t get a first edition copy of this excellent series!

For instance, I have the first editions of his SONG OF ALBION trilogy, and they are a treasure on my bookshelf. You don’t want to miss this one!

And even if you have a copy, make sure to enter my contest for AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE SKIN MAP! There are very few of these around the country, and I don’t know anyone who is giving them away. Also, Stephen, to my knowledge, has returned to Oxford, England, and so unless you have a time machine or a handy ley-line (jk), this is your only option!

Laity Lodge Writing Retreat
Robert with Stephen Lawhead, his son, Ross, and wife, Alice.


Remember … you have to take some part in the discussion each day, and also contact me with the solutions to the three riddles before 8AM CST tomorrow 11/4/2010:

RIDDLE…DAY THREE: The following are chapter #’s from the book. If you take the very first letter from each of the chapters (ignoring the “In which” phrase), you will get a a sentence of seven words. What does it say?


Note: If you don’t have the book, take a look at Google Books, find THE SKIN MAP, and then search for “chapter”, and you should be able to solve the riddle. I tested it and it worked for me.

(And for you riddlers that took part in The Skin Map national treasure hunt, I know I’m giving away a lot about how to solve this clue, but I didn’t want to make it impossible for those that are new to this sort of thing.)

DISCUSSION…DAY THREE: Which short passage from the book represents excellent craft to you? You are allowed to type it out as long as it is short, but you can just refer to it if you like. Mine are listed above.

BUT … if you haven’t read The Skin Map, you can submit an example of excellent craft from any of SRL’s other books … or if you’ve never read any of his work, tell me why you’d like to have this book.

Thanks, everyone, for taking part in the book give-away!

Note, spoliers are allowed in the comments, so read at your own risk.

CSFF Blog Tour

And don’t forget to visit the other members of the tour:

Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

8 thoughts on “Stephen Lawhead’s THE SKIN MAP — Day 3

  1. There are several things that stood out to me. In much historical fiction the stories do not feel real because the people don’t act human, but act in a way we imagine people of a certain time should have acted. I really enjoyed that these characters seem human. Another is that he does seem to capture well that people probably wouldn’t adapt to this form of travel easily.

    I still haven’t read the book in print but have an audio version. Whoever selected the reader did an excellent job – the accents were enjoyable and only a bit over the top.

  2. I like the whole idea of ley lines & how everyone is trying to understand how to use them to their advantage. Why does the Skin Map have missing parts? Who took the hidden one & how did they replicate it to look like the original? Questions need to be answered & I guess we’l have to wait until the other books come out to understand it all.
    I’ve read & have the book but would love a sign one much better. The Bone House will not come soon enough.

  3. My brother introduced me to Mr. Lawhead’s work, and this book his me intrigued to the point, that while waiting for the Series to continue, I am going to start his other series. I have a huge interest in history and love period pieces. His writing style looks like it will keep your interest intact and make you wanna go “just one more chapter”… I’m looking forward to it.

  4. As I mentioned on the first day, the opening lines, “Had he but known that before the day was over he would discover the hidden dimensions of the universe, Kit might have been better prepared. At least, he would have brought an umbrella.” had me. I read them aloud for someone else and they commented that an opening like that demands you continue reading.

    In The Sword and the Flame, or The Silver Hand you can feel the weight and temperature of the metal as it takes shape, either as a sword in the first, or a hand in the second. In Merdin you live his remorse as he sees the hand of his unborn child protruding from the lacerated belly of his wife. The mastery with which Lawhead wields his words could win wars or incite them.

  5. You know the phrase “You had me at Hello?” I felt that way reading that very first sentence of the book. After reading it I burst out laughing, because my very first thought was “or a towel” because it made me think of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – and SRL was about to take us on our own journey and should be sure to bring our towels too…. and possibly an umbrella. :)

  6. I love the balanced mixture of gravity and whimsy that is evident throughout the book. There is the attention to realistic detail , while telling a story that sweeps across centuries and civilizations. And yes, the memorable opening, every bit as good as, “It all began with the aurochs.” Mostly, with this book, I am impressed with the deftness with which points of view change as the story passes not only from one character to another, but from one location to another country or continent, and from this year to that century, and it all still seems like a couple of continuous, unbroken strands that intertwine and unfold seemingly chronologically, diverging and merging so seamlessly at just the right times. As well as this kind of writing was done in the first part of ‘Taliesin,’ I think this is handled even better, and it shows how much Mr. Lawhead’s writing skills have grown even since that excellent Pendragon cycle.

  7. In the Skin Map, I loved the description of the meal Kit had with Sir Henry and the others:

    He spooned up a hefty helping of the mash and politely tasted the greens, then resumed his steady work on the heap of ribs and shanks before him. By the time Kit pushed himself away, his bowl was a slaughterhouse tangle of bones and gristle, and his cheeks, chin, and hands were dripping with grease. He felt as if he might possible explode from internal pressure and that, all things considered, this would probably be for the best.

    I laughed and laughed! I’m not sure why I love Stephen’s descriptions of feasts, but I do believe I’ve tried new foods just because I read about them in his books.

  8. I’d like to have this book because I’ve been told by MANY people that Stephen Lawhead is an amazing writer. I believe it was either Wayne Thomas Batson or Christopher Hopper who called him “the Tolkien of our generation”.

    I love Tolkien… so I have a feeling I’ll love Mr. Lawhead’s books, as well.

    Also, I’d like to have THIS book because it’s signed and, more importantly, free (my wallet is shamefully slim).

    I had a chance to win a copy of “The Skin Map” at the recent ACFW Conference. However, too many people were voracious Lawhead readers, and one of the “fans” eagerly snatched up the book before I could so much as utter a syllable. That person’s enthusiasm is what caught my interest enough for me to track down the answers to the riddles in this blog tour! (And I had fun with my sleuthing cap, Robert. haha)

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